Like a lot of folks, I was really panicked when J.R. Boisclair, of WAM Engineering, revealed that the Onzow ZeroDust was leaving residue on phono cartridge styli (https://www.analogplanet.com/content/time-put-away-onzow-zerodust). The last thing any vinyl head wants to hear is that their expensive phono cartridge is being covered in goop when they thought they were cleaning it. My immediate reaction was to look for a more substantial manner of cleaning my stylus beyond manually brushing the stylus with stylus cleaner.
Over the years, I have seen many electronic/motorized Stylus cleaners, most notably the Flux Hifi Ultrasonic Electronic Stylus Cleaner, but at a cost of $150 I thought this was too expensive a device to “just get my toes wet” and experiment with this type of cleaner. Enter the Hudson Hi-Fi Turntable UV Stylus Cleaner (https://www.hudsonhifi.com/products/hudson-hi-fi-turntable-uv-stylus-cleaner-vinyl-cleaning-vinyl-stylus-needle-cleaner-for-turntable-record-player-anti-static-needle-cleaner-for-turntable-accessories) at a cost of $33.50 on Amazon – almost one fifth the of The Flux Hifi Stylus cleaner. While UV is in the title, it doesn’t use Ultra Violet Light. In this case UV stands for Ultrasonic Vibration. The Hudson Hifi UV Stylus Cleaner works through vibration generated by a motor with an off-set weight, which causes the brush to vibrate. The process of cleaning the stylus is a simple one. A single drop of the supplied cleaning fluid is placed on the cleaner’s brush, the stylus is placed on the brush and the cleaner is turned on for 15 seconds. As this device vibrates the stylus, this process should be done with the preamp set to a different input than phono or with the phono preamp turned off in order to avoid the directly induced vibration to the cartridge from passing through the system. While I wasn’t able check my stylus with a microscope, under a jewelers’ loupe, the stylus looked spotless and the diamond gleamed in the light.
Having had success with the Hudson Hi-Fi Turntable UV Stylus Cleaner, I decided to explore other products from the Hudson Hi-Fi company. Next up was the Hudson HiFi “Vinyl Record Cleaning Arm/ Anti Static Brush” (https://www.hudsonhifi.com/products/hudson-hi-fi-vinyl-record-cleaner-anti-static-brush-record-cleaning-arm-brush-cleaner-antistatic-lp-cleaning-brush-turntable-cleaning-record-brush) Throughout the 1960’s and early 1970’s anti-dust brushes were fairly common on turntables. The base of these arms are usually placed on the rear left corner of the turntable. In use, the brush head of the anti-dust arm is placed on the out edge of the record prior to cuing the tonearm, such that the record has a few revolutions prior to the needle hitting the groove. The idea is that the brush will sweep any dust out of the way prior to its deposition on the stylus in order to minimize noise from particulates. In the case of the Vinyl Record Cleaning Arm/ Anti Static Brush, there is a ground wire that connects to the ground of you phono stage grounding static electricity.
While I can’t speak to the effectiveness of how well the Vinyl Record Cleaning Arm/Anti-Static Brush cleans records, this is mainly because I thoroughly clean my records using a record cleaning machine. I can, however, speak to the arm’s anti-static properties, which is the primary reason for my interest. On my turntable (Immedia RPM-2) the anti-static arm works fantastically well. Consistently, I experienced quieter background from the absence of static. On a couple of occasions, I forgot to use the anti-static brush, notice the louder pops and ticks from static, place the anti-static brush down and in every instance the background got significantly quieter. If I have one complaint, it is that the arm’s base comes with a double stick foam tape already applied, such that the user is to peel and stick the arm in place. I’d much rather have the tape included, but not attached. This would allow the user to use Blutak to adhere it and not have a permanent attachment to the table. The arm will work without being stuck onto the turntable plinth, but without attachment there is risk of it getting knocked over. At a price of around $30 I think this is a real bargain.
After my great experiences with the Hudson Hifi Stylus Cleaner and Anti -Static brush, I bought some of Hudson Hifi’s Anti-Static Vinyl Record sleeves on the advice of our very own Alex Pastine. The Hudson Hifi Anti-Static Record Sleeves are a “MoFi/Japanese” rice paper type sleeve that are far less expensive than The Mobile Fidelity branded sleeves of the same type. As I write this, Amazon sells Mobile Fidelity Sleeves at $27.55/50 and the Hudson Hifi version for $21.99/100, and the price is even lower if you buy a larger quantity ($77.99/500)
Hudson Hifi offer quite a number of other accessories including platter mats, record weights, turntable set-up tools and silicon sound isolation feet in various sizes all at very reasonable prices, which is a rare thing in audio these days. I think this company may be producing some of the best and biggest bargains for analog out there today. I am now looking forward to the product from Hudson HiFi. I’m sure it will be a winner.